Build a Pro-active Plan to Recruit Good Workers in a Tight Labor Market

Construction business coach George Hedley outlines a 9-step pro-active plan for construction companies to help them find and keep top performers.

In order to combat a people shortage problem, construction contractors need to be pro-active and have a program in place to fill current and future positions.
In order to combat a people shortage problem, construction contractors need to be pro-active and have a program in place to fill current and future positions.
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I am tired of hearing contractors say they can’t find any good or trained help. When all they do is complain about their problems, they’ve decided to be negative, and not develop positive solutions to their problems. I get calls and emails all the time from contractors asking how to find help. When people don’t apply, you can’t hire them. And when you don’t take out a help wanted ad, they won’t apply. And “yes” it takes money and a pro-active plan to recruit good people to work for your company!

5 hiring realizations in today's economy

  1. You must admit and realize there aren’t any readily available professional competent trained field trade workers, foremen, superintendents, project managers, or estimators sitting in front of your office begging for you to hire them!
  2. If you aren’t being pro-active about finding people and keeping your pipeline full of potential candidates to hire, you’ll never find anyone to hire.
  3. If you don’t have someone in your company accountable to continuously seek and find applicants to apply and interview, you’ll never have enough people.
  4. If you don’t offer a great pay, fringe and benefit package potential employees won’t work for your company.
  5. If you don’t place an ad, people won’t know you need people or apply for work.

To attract and retain good people, you must decide to be pro-active about implementing a program to find and keep great people to work for your company. Attracting and keeping people is a result of building a great place to work where good people want to work for your company. They are empowered, have a future, feel part of a team, trained, inspired, recognized, praised, thanked, participate in decisions, and encouraged to perform at a higher level.

 9 pro-active steps to find good employees

1. Assign a hiring director

Put someone in charge of attracting people to apply for current and future positions at your company. This “hiring director” is accountable to manage, monitor, encourage and keep applicants applying, ranking and sorting them, and setting interviews with key managers or field team leaders to interview and hire. Assign this part-time responsibility to an administrator, project assistant, engineer or human resource manager.

Give them the task and goal to keep your people pipeline full of applicants for your immediate needs and people on the bench for when you need them. Give them a budget for ads, website pages, brochures and incentives to attract people to apply for jobs on an ongoing regular monthly basis.

2. Offer hiring incentives

Provide referral incentives to employees to encourage them to refer candidates to apply for work at your company. The best people often come from referrals from employees. Most people have relatives, friends, or friends of friends they know who have the same values and work ethic as they do, and would likely do well at your company.

Put incentives in place to motivate employees to recruit others to apply for jobs and join your company. The minimum referral incentive bonus that works well is a minimum of $250 to $500 depending on the position someone applied for, interviewed, hired and lasts at least three months working. You can also consider offering a hiring referral reward to suppliers and subcontractors you ask for help filling your company positions.

3. Offer a hiring bonus

The same applies to new hires who last at least three months with your company. Offer a signing bonus or special perk to new employees who last at least three months.

4. Offer great pay packages

To compete for good people, you must offer more pay, benefits, education, perks, and extras than your competition and what is available in your marketplace. Remember, you’re also competing with full-time job opportunities at major companies, utilities and the government who offer reasonable pay for a guaranteed 40 hours per week plus a full package of benefits including retirement, sick pay, family health insurance, stock options, vacation and other perks.

Hedley Small AdIn a tight hiring market, you have to offer the right total pay package and top benefits to attract good people to come to work for you. I often hear contractors who don’t offer health insurance, vacation pay, holiday pay or full-time work continue to have a hard time getting new people to take a job with them.

Read next: Measuring and Tracking Recruiting and Retention Success

5. Develop a hiring webpage

Add a “We Want You” hiring page on your website which explains why your company is a great place to work and how well you treat your employees as family and teammates. Have testimonials and pictures of your team smiling and working together.

Talk about the benefits you offer, your training progra, and brag about how long your people stay with your company. Post a simple application easily downloadable on the page as well. Also, put the webpage address on all of your job signs and in your hiring ads.

6. Make it easy to apply for a job

Have a “Now Hiring” sign or sticker posted on your office, trucks and job signs. Include the direct phone number to the hiring director and your hiring webpage link. Have regular interview times at the same time every week or month. Give everyone in your company “Now Hiring” business cards to hand out with the phone number to call and your regular interview times shown.

7. Always be looking

Run hiring ads every month looking for positions you currently need filled and might require in the future. The goal is to fill the empty slots now plus develop a list of potential hires ready to join your company when needed. Too many contractors don’t have enough lead crew leaders, foreman or superintendents. They try to only have barely what they need to get by with their workload. This doesn’t allow for growth, emergencies, accelerated schedules or new project opportunities that might come up quickly.

It is a best practice to always have an extra foreman, superintendent, upcoming leader and crew ready to fill a need at anytime.

8. Offer summer intern jobs for high school students

Often the best employees are those who work part time for your company during the summer months and now are in need of a full time job opportunity. Create a program where interns can move around and do fill-in work for different crews, estimators, mechanics and project managers. Let them assist and learn about your company and the future opportunities available.

Read next: 18 Ways Contractors Can Improve How They Find and Hire Workers

9. Hold career days at your shop or yard

Start relationships with your local high school and vocational school teachers and counselors. Develop a program to get young people out to your company to see what you do and how they can build a career as construction professionals.

By being pro-active, you can find and attract good people to work for your company. Follow and implement these proven ideas and I guarantee your company will not have a people shortage problem in the future.

George Hedley CPBC is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular speaker. He helps contractors build better businesses, grow, increase profits, develop management teams, improve field production, and get their companies to work. He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available on  To get his free e-newsletter, start a personalized BIZCOACH program, attend a BIZ-BUILDER Action Plan Boot Camp, or get a discount at online university for contractors, E-mail